The Cardinals secondary was able to shut down rookie QB Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1. However, Tom Brady and Co. will provide a much more formidable challenge if their 34-13 romp of the Tennessee Titans was any indication.
One of these teams will have their undefeated hopes dashed very early in 2012. Let's break it down to see who it will be.
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
When: Sunday, September 16 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Listen: NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via OddsShark):
Spread: New England -15.5
What's at Stake?
Kevin Kolb looked like a franchise quarterback last week in orchestrating the game-winning drive. If the Cards start 2-0 and Kolb has a strong showing against a youthful Patriots defense, it may change not only the perception of Kolb around the league, but it may spark the Cardinals to a surprising, successful season.
For New England, it's business as usual. Rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones both provided big lifts to what's been a porous unit in recent years.
The Pats can continue to build on a strong performance in all phases against the Titans with a crisp, dominant outing at home as heavy favorites.
Injury Report (via ESPN)
CB Greg Toler, Questionable
QB John Skelton, Questionable
RB Shane Vereen, Questionable
TE Daniel Fells, Questionable
Cardinals Player to Watch: CB Patrick Peterson
The 2011 No. 5 overall pick squared off against Sidney Rice for most of last week and kept him relatively in check.
Still, Peterson has much to prove as a defender, but he will certainly be a home-run threat on punt returns. Zoltan Mesko is one of the best punters in the NFL, and it will be interesting to see how he kicks to Peterson on Sunday.
Breaking a big return or two could change the complexion of the game, and Peterson is as dangerous as anyone in the open field.
Patriots Player to Watch: WR Wes Welker
With the dynamic Pats offense, opponents essentially have to pick their poison.
Welker has been Brady's favorite target for a number of years, but the shifty slot receiver only caught three passes for 14 yards against Tennessee.
The Titans may have tried to take Welker out of the game, and Brady has become increasingly reliant on his phenomenal pair of tight ends. Still, free-agent acquisition Brandon Lloyd got eight targets as opposed to Welker's five.
It will be interesting to see how often Brady looks to Welker in this one, and whether his targets will continue to stay at the relatively low level they were at last week.
Prediction: Patriots 28, Cardinals 13
Gamblers will be enraged by the outcome of this game, because the spread is pretty much dead-on.
Whether it's Kolb or Skelton under center for Arizona, the Pats' D is likely to continue its strong start to the season. The Cards' defense is underrated, but Brady and the offense bring a more balanced attack than in 2011 with the emergence of Stevan Ridley, who ran for 125 yards in the opener.
It should be close for three quarters, but expect the Patriots to pull away in the end.
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